1. We think we need all those text messages, social updates, memes, and perfect Instagram pics.
If it entertains you now but will hurt or bore you someday, it’s a distraction. Don’t settle. Don’t exchange what you want most for what you kind of want at the moment. Study your habits. Figure out where your time goes, and remove distractions. It’s time to focus on what matters. A good place to start? Learn to be more human again. Don’t avoid eye contact. Don’t hide behind gadgets. Smile often. Ask about people’s stories. Listen. You can’t connect with anyone, including yourself, unless you are undistracted and present. And you can’t be either of the two when you’re Facebooking, Instagramming or Snapchatting your life away. You just can’t! If you are constantly attached to your smartphone and only listening with your ears as your eyes check for the next social update, you are ripping yourself off of actually experiencing real relationships and real life. The same is true for texting too. Yes, someday you will be slapped with the reality of a missed MEMORY being far more unsettling than a missed TEXT! Let this be your wake-up call! Too often we choose to distract ourselves with gadgets and news and videos and music and memes, 24/7, just to stimulate ourselves. It’s like second nature to us—we’re so used to feeling like the present moment isn’t worthy of our full presence. And this mindset of dissatisfaction and distraction—of reality never being enough for us – trickles into every facet of our lives… What if we admitted that life is slipping away right now, and saw the fleeting time we have as enough, without needing to share it on social media or capture it or filter it in any way?
What if we accepted the “bad” with the good, the letdowns with the lessons, the annoying with the beautiful, the anxiety with the opportunity, as part of a package deal that this moment alone is offering us? What if we paused right now, and saw everything with perfect clarity and no distractions? Keep thinking about it… Would we live more meaningful and memorable lives? Would we have more beautiful stories to cherish and share? Now is the best time to look around and be grateful—for our health, our homes, our families, our friends, and our momentary opportunities. Nothing else will matter as much when we look back someday.
2. We think we need more approval from the masses.
We worry about what other people think of us. We worry about our appearance. We worry if she’ll like us. We worry if he likes that other woman. We worry that we’re not accomplishing all that we should be. We worry that we’ll fall flat on our faces. We worry that we’re not enough just the way we are. And of course, we worry about all those foolish, thoughtless things someone once said about us. And social media—with its culture of getting us to seek constant approval with virtual likes and hearts—with its endless highlight reel of perfect bodies and epic travels—it only intensifies the problem. Realize this. You don’t need any of that social validation and distraction in your life!
It’s the strength of your conviction that determines your level of personal achievement in the long run, not the number of people who agree with every little thing you do. Ultimately, you will know that you’ve made the right decisions and followed the appropriate path when there is genuine peace in your heart, and when the few people who truly mean the world to you are the ones celebrating your success alongside you. It’s nice to have acquaintances. It’s important to be involved in your community to an extent. But don’t get carried away and spread yourself too thin. Leave plenty of time for the people and projects that matter most to you. Your time is extremely limited, and sooner or later you just want more of it with the select few people and projects that make you smile for all the right reasons. The ultimate goal is to never let some random person’s opinion become your reality. To never sacrifice who you are, or who you aspire to be, because someone on the internet has a problem with it. To love who you are inside and out as you push forward. And to realize once and for all that no one else has the power to make you feel small unless you give them that power. Of course, sometimes the pressure and dysfunctional judgements coming from peers, work, and society in general is enough to make us feel completely broken inside. If we do things differently, we’re looked down upon. If we dream big, we’re ridiculed. Or if we don’t have the “right” job, relationship, lifestyle, and so forth, by a certain age or time frame, we’re told that we’re not good enough. But that is just NOT true, and it’s your job to acknowledge it! So, here’s a new mantra for you (say it, and then say it again): “This is my life, my choices, my mistakes and my lessons. As long as I’m not hurting people, I need not worry what they think of me.”
3. We think we need to engage in the daily drama that seems so significant.
99% of the drama in our lives isn’t significant in the long run, because it isn’t even real. It’s all in our heads. Just a momentary rise in our blood pressure for all the wrong reasons. In a nutshell, most drama is simply the consequence of our inner resistance to outer incidents. Thus, there’s a strong chance the drama you are going through at any given moment is not fueled by the words or deeds of others, or any external sources at all; it is fueled primarily by your mind that gives the drama importance.
Why do we get so easily stressed out and sucked into needless drama? It’s because the world isn’t the predictable, orderly, blissful place we’d like it to be. We want things to be easy, comfortable and well ordered 24/7. But, unfortunately, sometimes work is hectic, relationships are challenging, important people demand our time, we aren’t as prepared as we’d like to be, and there’s just too much to do and learn and process in our minds. So our inner resistance begins to boil over. The problem is that we’re holding on too tightly to ideals that don’t match reality. We have subconsciously set up expectations in our minds of what we want other people to be, what we want ourselves to be, and what our work and relationships and life “should” be like. Our attachment to our ideals—our resistance to accept things as they are—stirs stress in our minds and drama in our lives. And we don’t want to be a part of this drama. At least that’s what we tell ourselves. So we blame others for it… and then we engage in even more of it!
But there’s good news: we can break the cycle, let go of drama, and find peace with reality. You can build a healthy daily ritual of stopping the needless drama in your life, and rediscovering the peace and joy and love that are always just a few thoughts away.
4. We think we need another comfortable, leisurely day.
A comfortable, leisurely day sounds nice, for a moment. But it’s not the kind of day you’ll look back on with gratitude for how far you’ve come. Truth be told, the most common and destructive addiction in the world is the draw of comfort. Why pursue growth when you already have 400 television channels, YouTube and a recliner? Just pass the dip and lose yourself in a trance. WRONG! That’s not living—that’s existing. Living is about learning and growing through excitement and discomfort. It’s about asking questions and seeking answers. And life is filled with questions, many of which don’t have an obvious or immediate answer. It’s your willingness to ask these questions, and your courage to march boldly into the unknown in search of the answers on a daily basis, that gives life it’s meaning.
In the end, you can spend your life feeling sorry for yourself, cowering in the comfort of a recliner, wondering why there are so many problems out in the real world, or you can be thankful that you are strong enough to endure them. It just depends on your mindset. The obvious first step in this arena, though, is convincing yourself to get up and do the uncomfortable things that need to be done. Your mind needs to be exercised to gain strength. It needs to be worked on a daily basis to grow. If you haven’t pushed yourself in lots of small ways over time—if you always avoid doing the uncomfortable things—you’ll almost certainly crumble on the inevitable days that are harder than you expected.
Choose to go to the gym when it would be more comfortable to sleep in. Choose to do the tenth rep when it would be more comfortable to quit at nine. Choose to create something special when it would be more comfortable to consume something mediocre. Choose to raise your hand and ask that extra question when it would be more comfortable to stay silent. Choose to stand your ground when it would be more comfortable to fit in. Just keep proving to yourself in lots of little ways, every day, that you have the guts to get up, get in the ring, and fight for the life you are capable of living.